We’re thrilled to reopen and begin to introduce you to a few of our team members. First up is the always cool-under-pressure Tommy Lasley, our Executive Chef.
Tommy was raised in rural North Carolina. His family’s property bordered a National Forest, and he has fond memories of many hours spent exploring these woods - alone or with his brother. They’d build a fire and cook themselves dinner from what they found foraging, or roast a chicken they’d brought along. This connection to the elements - sun, soil, water - inspired his focus now as a chef on creating food with fresh, honest ingredients.
Growing up, Tommy worked his way up the restaurant food chain, becoming Chef de Cuisine at the noted Cyprus restaurant in Highlands, NC, before heading off to more formal training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. Tommy did his culinary externship at the famed Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York. At Blue Hill, he truly enjoyed the culinary team’s weekly farm tours. The first hours of each Thursday were spent on the farm picking vegetables, weeding, collecting eggs. “It was so gratifying, the direct connection to the ingredients you were using, the connection to the earth. It was a once in a lifetime experience.” Working at Blue Hill, one had to consider carefully where waste was to go - trash, recycling, compost or the hogs. At the end of the night, Tommy would often be charged with driving the hog cans across the farm at 2am, feeding the pampered pigs their late-night snack.
After a number of years working in some highly-acclaimed New York and Connecticut restaurants, Tommy relocated to Charlottesville, taking the position as head chef with the talented team at Orzo, reconnecting with his CIA classmate Ben Thompson, and immersing himself in the C’ville food scene. After a few years at Orzo, and a quick detour back to North Carolina to help open yet another restaurant, he joined forces with Ben to turn Ivy Provisions into a thriving gourmet sandwich shop. At IvP, Tommy enjoys connecting with the customers, many of whom are regulars that come in several times a week. “We work very hard to satisfy our customer’s needs, whether it be sandwiches, our pantry items, or our curated selection of beer, wine and other Virginia gourmet foods and snacks. When customers come back time and time again, it’s very satisfying, and it lets us know we are on the right track.”
Tommy describes his goals when creating the new Fry’s menu as “keeping it very simple and approachable.” If you start with high-quality ingredients, you don’t have to do much other than treat them properly. For example, Fry’s tomato sauce - the backbone of our pizzas and pastas - has only 5 ingredients: garlic, tomato, olive oil, basil & parmesan. Tommy’s credo is, “Buy something that tastes great, and don’t over-manipulate it - try your absolute best to allow it to speak for itself.”
Hope to see you soon!